Experts: Which ones should you trust?

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (1):85-110 (2001)
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Mainstream epistemology is a highly theoretical and abstract enterprise. Traditional epistemologists rarely present their deliberations as critical to the practical problems of life, unless one supposes—as Hume, for example, did not—that skeptical worries should trouble us in our everyday affairs. But some issues in epistemology are both theoretically interesting and practically quite pressing. That holds of the problem to be discussed here: how laypersons should evaluate the testimony of experts and decide which of two or more rival experts is most credible. It is of practical importance because in a complex, highly specialized world people are constantly confronted with situations in which, as comparative novices, they must turn to putative experts for intellectual guidance or assistance. It is of theoretical interest because the appropriate epistemic considerations are far from transparent; and it is not clear how far the problems lead to insurmountable skeptical quandaries. This paper does not argue for flat-out skepticism in this domain; nor, on the other hand, does it purport to resolve all pressures in the direction of skepticism. It is an exploratory paper, which tries to identify problems and examine some possible solutions, not to establish those solutions definitively.



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Author's Profile

Alvin Goldman
Rutgers University - New Brunswick

Citations of this work

Echo chambers and epistemic bubbles.C. Thi Nguyen - 2020 - Episteme 17 (2):141-161.
Peer disagreement and higher order evidence.Thomas Kelly - 2010 - In Alvin I. Goldman & Dennis Whitcomb (eds.), Social Epistemology: Essential Readings. Oxford University Press. pp. 183--217.
Epistemic Trespassing.Nathan Ballantyne - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):367-395.
Transparency is Surveillance.C. Thi Nguyen - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 105 (2):331-361.

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References found in this work

Knowledge in a social world.Alvin I. Goldman - 1999 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Testimony: a philosophical study.C. A. J. Coady - 1992 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Content preservation.Tyler Burge - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (4):457-488.

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